People Power Raises $3.2M to Induce Smart Home Solutions

The Palo-Alto-based People Power, an IoT and artificial intelligence (AI) software company raised $ 3.2M Series B-1 led by Innogy SE (ETR: IGY) and Origin Energy (ASX: ORG). The successful round brings People Power’s total investments to $ 14 million since the company started in Jan 2009.

Security, energy and home care services are key areas where the company sells its white label IoT solutions. The two core products of the company are People Power IoT Gateway and the People Power IoT Suite.

The AI-based gateway learns and enforces expected patterns of network traffic. The gateway is capable of flagging abnormal network activities and anomalies making it an intelligent device. The connectivity device incorporates ZigBee 3.0 and Green Power, BLE 4.1, WLAN 2.4 GHz 802.11 b/g/n, Z-Wave (optional) and cellular connectivity technologies. For storage, the device uses local Micro SD storage and USB 2.0.

The People Power IoT Suite lets OEMs and service providers connect, learn, and manage their IoT devices using the IoT suite. It contains:

• Presto, an open source SDK

• Virtuoso, an app framework for iOS, Android, and Web for IoT application deployment

• Bot Services

• Symphony, a carrier-grade cloud server

• Analytics engine

People Power adds artificial intelligence to the system. It does so by letting different bots within its platform talk to each other to prioritize tasks. A user’s Smart Lighting Intelligence Bot will directly communicate to the Security Intelligence bot in order to prioritize whether to save energy by switching off lights or keep lights switched on for security purposes at a given moment. The system lets bots optimize tasks for an optimal outcome for the user.

Led by Moss and CEO Gene Wang, the company boasts a number of global consumer service brands, including the world’s largest telecom company China Mobile.

The Artificial Intelligence & IoT-based startup is operating in an ever competitive niche of connected home products, though it white labels its solutions letting it partner with other companies vying for the same market.


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Google Home updates will provide visual responses on an iPhone display, hands-free calling

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Google has revealed a number of updates it will be rolling out to the Google Home connected speaker, with major additions including the device’s ability to put responses to queries on a nearby display, such as the user’s iPhone, as well as being able to place phone calls from the device itself.
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Watch: Rumors of a Siri home speaker heat up as Apple heads toward WWDC

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Apple is believed to be working on a home audio device that will allow users to make Siri queries without directly interacting with other devices. AppleInsider offers a quick rundown of all the latest rumors on Apple’s so-called Siri home speaker, which could debut as soon as next month.
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Yonomi has a new idea for smart home manufacturers

One of the biggest challenges facing the makers of connected devices is figuring out how to pay for a product that they sell once, but which has an ongoing cost. Every connected device requires cloud infrastructure, developers to continue updating apps, security updates and customer support.

So a device that sells for a one-time cost of $ 200 might end up costing the manufacturer $ 3 per year to support. That may not seem like much, but if the company sells 10 million of those devices, then suddenly they have a $ 30 million ongoing cost for the lifetime of that device.

So what’s a connected device company to do? While it can’t eliminate all of those costs, it can turn to vendors who are looking at that ongoing cost as an opportunity. Yonomi, a Boulder, Colorado-based startup, thinks it has part of the answer.

Yonomi makes a consumer-facing software app that detects the connected devices in your home and suggests automations that make them work better together. Now it’s adding a cloud architecture for makers of connected devices that will let a thermostat or lock maker build their own smart products in a more flexible way.

Yonomi calls it Thin Cloud and there are two elements that it has tweaked. The first is that it sells a license to the code, so a buyer of Yonomi’s Thin cloud gets the software in a one-time deal (there are subscriptions available for support and management). This addresses concerns about buying into an IoT cloud platform and realizing that your device is then locked into a single vendor.

The second tweak Yonomi made is in the architecture. It designed its cloud platform to take advantage of what many call “serverless” compute. These are services such as AWS Lambda or Google Cloud Functions. Technically this type of computing still occurs on servers, but the difference is in how it’s used.

A typical AWS computing instance spins up and runs all the time, ready to do the bidding of your program. With serverless computing, the instance only spins up when the program says it needs to complete a task and then it spins back down. This can save costs for something like a sensor that only wakes up when motion happens.

When the motion sensor is triggered, the sensor sends the message, the Lambda instance wakes up to trigger something, and then disappears. This is much cheaper than keeping a computing instance running just in case the motion sensor sends something.

That’s somewhat of a long explanation, but this is a trend that is going to be important for many IoT use cases. There are drawbacks for now. For example, depending on AWS Lambda, which has the most well-documented set of tools today, means you are tied fairly deeply to other AWS services. However, Joss Scholten, CTO and co-founder at of Yonomi, says that he’s confident that Yonomi can move its Thin Cloud offering to other clouds in the near future if clients want that.

Yonomi’s Thin Cloud has been in beta for several months and has several customers. The only one it can disclose is the parent company of Schlage locks. Rob Martens, who is a futurist at Schlage, says the product changes the economics of supporting a connected product and helps make it more predictable.

Schlage is so impressed that it put an undisclosed amount of money into Yonomi several months after it signed on as a customer. Martens joined the board.

Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis

Hive goes the subscription route with “smart home as a service”

hive-connected-smart-home

Hive, a connected home company, is launching a new subscription service aimed at introducing people to smart home products without having to pay for each device. The “Welcome Home” service has three tiers: starter, regular, and premium. The starter package includes the Hive Hub, an Active Plug to manually turn off devices, two LED Active lightbulbs and two window or door sensors for $ 9.99 a month. The subscription service is also available in the United Kingdom for £5.99 a month. See Also: Microsoft to turn Windows 10 PCs into smart home hubs Regular customers receive all of…Read More

Connected Devices – ReadWrite

Funny video: 8 accents are tested on Google Home, Alexa, and Siri with 4 different questions

 

Google’s speech recognition error rate is getting lower and lower – yesterday, the company said it’s now under 5% and has dropped from 8.5% this time last year. And I find that to be more and more the case in my own use: Google seems to recognize almost everything I throw at it now, even when I add Lebanese/Arabic names from my contacts list that I wouldn’t expect it to get right.

But if you’re wondering how Google’s speech recognition fares in comparison to other voice assistants, Wired has made a video in conjunction with Andy Wood and Matt Kirshen (from Probably Science) to show you just that.

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Funny video: 8 accents are tested on Google Home, Alexa, and Siri with 4 different questions was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

Android Police – Android News, Apps, Games, Phones, Tablets